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Home > Tech Views > General Computing

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Spelling piracy - errors are money

1. Page 1

Web economy is based on a fundamental monetary unit: the visits attempted by cybernauts to various web pages. An increasing activity of visits to a site leads to an increasingly underscoring of its importance that results to a boost in advertising prices and so on. Furthermore, many web pages do not even need a lot of advertising to become known. They bear their own history that has existed longer than cyberspace itself. Take the address ww.nytimes.com for example; an address, which belongs to the “New York Times” newspaper and is one of the Internet’s most frequently visited sites. The reliability of the newspaper is translated into an invaluable source of information on the Net. Yet, was someone to keystroke www.nytimesl.com by mistake one would be faced with quite a surprise. That specific address had been registered by a character that had nothing to do with the newspaper and navigated computers to the pornographic site www.clubanytime.com.

Rafael Fortuntry, an Internet entrerpreneur from Miami, USA, had come up with a cheap means to increase his web page traffic: he would just make use of people’s spelling mistakes. The “New York Times” was not his sole victim. The distance between a lot of large and famous sites and his own, was limited to just a dot. For instance, if the users who would like to visit the Pain Webber Inc. Investment Company’s pages (www.painwebber.com) missed the first dot (in other words punched wwwpainwebber.com) would find themselves logged once again on Fortuntry’s pornographic site. The same would happen to those who, instead of stroking www.citibank.com, would keystroke wwwcitibank.com or to those who, while looking for books, would punch www.barnsandnoblel.com instead of www.barnsandnoble.com, or to those who would enter www.ebbay.com instead of www.ebay.com.

This phenomenon, known as “spelling piracy”, was greatly featured in the Press some time ago, when the Pathfinder spacecraft had landed on Mars and several schools in the USA attempted to visit the NASA pages (www.nasa.gov). To their dismay and embarrassment, the teachers who had mistakenly punched www.nasa.com found themselves in a pornographic site. Naturally, and after the turmoil that broke out,www.nasa.com is no longer on, but the practice of “spelling piracy” has already acquired the magnitude of an epidemic.

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